Women’s March 2018 Speech

(Here’s a link to the video of the following speech: Women’s March 2018 )

“I will start with an obvious statement- in case nobody has noticed, I am a brown person. (Or as brown as I can be here, since the sun is only coming out today, and not in the last few weeks.) And I am also a cis woman. Which means that I carry with myself a lot of very hidden privileges, and a lot of very obvious disadvantages.

And I am also a couple of other things that are unseen by the eye but felt by the mind- and that is a sexual assault survivor, (multiple times,) and an artist. Which means, you know, in this society those are two very pitiable circumstances.

I never really considered myself a political person, per se. I always considered myself to be a very publicly personal, person. You know the type that tell stories, and get people very uncomfortable, because it’s oversharing? That’s me. And that used to make me feel bad, like, ‘oh gosh, I can’t expose them to the truths of the world! It’s just too much for them.’ But that was the me of 2015, and not the me of today.

Because I have found that the people I make uncomfortable are either not brown, or not a woman, or have not been raped, or are not artists, or do not come from my same socioeconomical background.

As a woman of color, I have been held responsible for being a well-mannered and non-stereotypical person, at the same time, consistently.

And as a Mexican American, I have been told repeatedly by Mexicans, that I am nothing but a shallow American, and told by Americans that I am nothing but a dirty Mexican. And trust me, the political climate has not made either of those perspectives any lighter.

As a survivor of sexual assault, I have been held responsible for actions held against me. Having a long history of sexual trauma that affects me to this day means that I cringe any time sexual slander is insensitively flown around the media, as if triggers are not something that actually exist.

As an artist, I have been held responsible for showcasing and choosing sides of communities that the general public believe that I can embody – ‘Because you’re brown, and because you’re a woman, and because XYandZ, you would fit it perfectly! Let’s put you out front, and let’s label you right there.’

But you know what? Who are they to tell me what I can embody? Who are they to tell you what you can embody? And who is anyone to tell you that your story is not important, not valid, or not to be heard because it makes someone else uncomfortable?

We are here because we all have stories. And we are here because we are all parts of a collective whole. And although we may feel as if nobody else is sharing this experience, I guarantee you that there is always at least one person in a crowd, no matter how large or small, that is sharing some small, seemingly broken or undesirable piece of yourself, that has so much more strength than you realize.

And it’s time that we hold these ‘characteristics’ and identities that are deemed less than others, closer to ourselves, with pride. Because these are our stories that have not been heard, and these are our stories that need to be told.

The political will always be personal. And until you realize that your personal story is a political threat, and that you embody that, you will not have the power to live as a political (or personal) person, publicly- as I am doing now.

And I will not be held responsible for a damn thing that I have not chosen for myself.

All I claim responsibility for is my voice, and my story. And I choose to honor both openly, and unapologetically. And I hope that you choose to do the same.

And so I leave you with these couple of personal quotes –

Never let anybody take the guilt from the backs of those who deserve it, and place it on your shoulders.

Never let the political climate, affect your personal progress.

Speak yourself into existence.

And never let yourself fade into the darkness.

I heard about my current city’s Women’s March on Wednesday the 17th- only 3 days before the March itself.
Lately, I had been holding a lot of animosity in my mind toward parts of myself I had been struggling with, and the pressure to prove the worthiness of these parts to others. I figured that the March was an opportunity to relieve these pressures from my brain, and so I signed up to be a speaker.
I had no idea what I was going to speak about- only that I would figure it out as I went. I began writing about the identities that I considered my own, and what those meant to me in the current state of the US. The solitude, the fear, the anger, and the miscommunication. I reflected on the times I had attempted to share these parts of myself with others, and how I had often been met with looks of intimidation and discomfort. Those looks have never been forgotten, as they have a tendency to become engrained in one’s mind if it is already filled with insecurities.
I reflected on the initial aftermath of election day. How I had felt my world crash down into two words- “responsibility” and “representation.” I had felt as if all the work I had been doing to heal myself personally through my artwork was now needed to be replaced by brash, unmistakable marks of revolution and revolt in the name of representation. Representation of all my identities I had claimed in mind, now needed to be externally flaunted. The responsibility to create and represent strategically and uncharacteristically to my previous work swallowed me whole.
But I came back out of this hellish pressure with a resolve to do just that- hold myself responsible. But not in the ways that others had forced me to. I chose to hold myself responsible to being honest, unafraid, and unashamed of my identities and systemic disadvantages. I chose to hold myself responsible for using my voice in whatever way it chose to manifest; visually, verbally, or written. I chose to represent only what is true to myself, no matter the outside associations and noise.
And I still plan and promise to continue using my personal experiences to be Visible, Present, and Relevant moving forward into the rest of 2018.
I hope that wherever you are and whoever you are, that you find a place within yourself to feel confident, true, and fearless. If we deny our stories, we deny our very existence.

May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering

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